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The Story of the Little Red-Haired Writer

Do you know the story The Little Red Hen? It’s possible that you heard it as a child, or even read it yourself. Perhaps you’ve read it to your (grand)children. If you’re not familiar with the story, there’s a version of it right here.

I got to thinking about how that story could be adapted to show you a little of the writing world, because several parts of it are similar to parts of the story. So, if you’ll be kind enough to ask your disbelief to enjoy a coffee and a piece of cake, here, with apologies to the originator of this folk tale, is…

 

The Little Red-Haired Writer

 

One day, the little red-haired writer decided to create a book. She had a good idea for a story, too. She spent quite a long time writing her book, but at last it was done.

‘Who will help me revise my book, so it’s ready to be published?’ asked the little red-haired writer.
‘Not I,’ said the famous literary agent.
‘Not I,’ said the much-in-demand editor.
‘Very well, then,’ said the little red-haired writer. ‘I’ll do it myself.’ And so she did. It took a lot of work to revise the story, and help from some friends. Finally, though, it was ready to be published.

‘Who will help me publish my book?’ asked the little red-haired writer.
‘Not I,’ said the large, international traditional publisher.
‘Not I,’ said the small, independent publisher.
‘Not I,’ said the breakout, ebooks-only publisher.
‘Very well, then,’ said the little red-haired writer. ‘I’ll do it myself.’ And so she did. She looked and looked for the right place to publish her work. She found a talented artist for the cover design. She designed her own imprint logo, and she formatted her book so that it was ready to go.

Finally, the book was published! The little red-haired writer was very excited, but now she needed to get the word out about her book.
‘Who will help me market my book?’ asked the little red-haired writer.
‘Not I,’ said the professional book critic.
‘Not I,’ said the large chain bookstore.
‘Not I,’ said the popular independent bookstore.
‘Very well, then,’ said the little red-haired writer. ‘I’ll do it myself.’ And so she did. She made a book trailer, she used social media, and she got her blog friends to post reviews. She gave her business cards out to anyone who would take one, and she did readings wherever anyone would let her.

Then, an amazing thing happened (erm – your disbelief’s still out, right? 😉  ). People started to buy her book. Then more people did. And even more people. Soon, the little red-haired writer started to make a name for herself. She started to earn money, too. In fact, she became quite popular as a writer.

‘I wonder if anyone would be interested in sharing my profits with me,’ the little red-haired writer said.
‘I will,’ said the famous literary agent.
‘I will,’ said the much-in-demand editor.
‘I will,’ said the large traditional publisher.
‘I will,’ said the small, independent publisher.
‘I will,’ said the breakout, ebooks-only publisher.
‘I will,’ said the large chain bookstore.
‘I will,’ said the popular independent bookstore.
The little red-haired writer thought about it for a while. ‘No, thank you,’ she said. ‘I’ll share my profits with the friends who helped me.’ And so she did. Trust me, folks (you know who you are), if this part of the story ever does come true, I will.

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So Unusual ;-)

The more crime fiction there is out there, the more possibility there is for most unusual murder methods. After all, lots of different things can serve as weapons, can’t they? And if you think enough about it, you’ll be all ready for….

 

 

 

 

….a quiz!! Oh come on! It’s not as though you haven’t been warned that this blog is not safe! 😉

 

There are plenty of different ways to commit murder. And, as a dedicated crime fiction fan, you know all of the most unusual murder methods in the genre, don’t you? Or do you? Take this handy quiz and find out. Match each question to the correct answer, and see how many you get right.

 

Ready? Pet that crocodile to begin… if you dare!! 😉

 

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Recall Notice

When Jim got home from work, Cathie was sitting curled up on the sofa, sifting through the day’s letters and bills.
‘Anything interesting?’ he asked.
Cathie looked up and smiled. ‘No, not really. Just the usual waste of paper.’ She looked back down at the pile in her lap. ‘Wait, here’s something. A recall notice from the Nissan people.’ She read it through. ‘Looks like some sort of transmission problem they have to fix. They say it’s not urgent, but ought to be done.’
‘Well, you drive the Altima more than I do. Has it been giving you any trouble?’
‘Actually, yeah. In the last two weeks or so it’s been acting really strange. And we’ve only had it a month!’
‘Well, now you know why. At least it’s a recall, so we won’t owe anything. Besides, it wasn’t new when we got it. You gotta figure it wouldn’t be perfect.’

Cathie got up and, laying the recall notice aside, threw the rest of the mail into the wastebasket next to the television. She turned towards Jim. ‘Still, you’d think they’d have said something when we got it. I’d better see if the dealership’s still open and make that call now. Otherwise I’ll forget completely.’ Jim grinned at her as she pulled her telephone out of her pocket.

Adrian looked carefully at the blue Nissan Altima. He checked the vehicle identification number that the woman had given him when she checked the car in. Then he checked the plate number. No doubt about it; it was the same car. It was burned into his memory. Brad came up behind him. ‘You OK, Adrian?’
‘Yeah, fine.’ Adrian shook his head slightly and got up. Brad knew he was lying, but what the hell? Anyone would be messed up after his wife got killed.
‘You sure?’ Brad asked. Then he pointed to the schedule Adrian had been using. ‘I can do that one if you want. You shouldn’t even be in today. I mean, it’s been what, six weeks?’
‘No, I’ll do it.’
‘Whatever.’
Adrian glanced at Brad. ‘Sorry. It’s just – working is better than sitting around. I have to do something.’
‘I get it. You want a break, you let me know.’
‘OK.’

Adrian walked out to the reception area. He looked around at the group of people waiting for car service. ‘Cathie Darnell?’
A small woman with medium-length, straight chestnut hair looked up. ‘That’s me,’ she said.
‘Great,’ Adrian smiled. ‘Your car’s in the service bay now. The recall repairs’ll take about an hour. You’re welcome to grab a cup of coffee and stay here, or there’s a taco place across the road.’
‘Thanks.’

It only took Adrian about 40 minutes, but he kept the car the full hour and checked everything twice. When it was ready, he went out to the reception lounge. Cathie was sitting there, reading a book that she must have brought with her. Adrian walked over towards her.
‘Your car’s all ready.’
She put her book down and stood up. She thanked him with a smile and asked, ‘Is there anything else I need to do?’
‘Just check out at the desk and pick up your keys.’
‘Great. Appreciate it.’

Adrian watched as she went up to the desk, signed the forms, and got her keys. Then, he went back to the service bay and looked out the open bay door as Cathie got in her car and drove off.

Jim’s telephone rang just as he was about to leave his office. It was Cathie’s ring.
‘Hi, Hon, how’d it go at the dealership?’
‘Oh, thank God you picked up, Jim. It’s – I don’t know what’s wrong!’
‘What’s the matter.’
‘It’s the car! I went to the dealership, got it fixed, then did a few things. Then it just started acting strange. I mean really strange.’
‘Where are you right now? I can come and get you. We’ll have it towed.’
‘All right. I’m on University Aven – ’
Jim heard a loud explosion. ‘Cathie! Are you OK? Cathie! Cathie!’

The next morning, two police officers stood in the reception area of the dealership, almost exactly where Cathie Darnell had stood the day before.
‘And Ms. Darnell left at what time?’ one of them asked.
‘At, I guess, three-thirty,’ Adrian said. ‘We finished up with her car, she signed for it, and then I didn’t see her again.’
‘Did you find any problems with the car?’
‘No. I mean, we did the recall work, but that wouldn’t have – well – made the car’s engine explode.’
‘Right. Do you keep a log book or anything?’
‘We keep records of what was done to each car. If that could be of help?’
‘Thanks.’

Adrian went to get the records for the Darnell car. Not that it would help the cops much. What he’d done to the car wasn’t written on any official paperwork. But now, that woman’s husband would know what it felt like to lose a wife. He’d been the one who hit Adrian’s car that night, and sent it over an embankment. Adrian had survived, but Vick hadn’t. Now that bastard would know what it was like. He got the information he was looking for, and went back to where the police were waiting.

‘I think this is all we have,’ Adrian said, as he handed over the printouts.
‘Thanks.’
‘Sure, anything I can do to help. Such an awful shame!’
‘Yeah, it was. Turns out she’d only had the car a couple of weeks, too.’
‘A couple of weeks?’
‘Something like that.’ The detective turned to his partner for confirmation.
‘Yeah,’ the other one said. ‘They got it used less than a month ago.’
‘So… they aren’t the original owners?’
‘No, like I said, they just got it. Sir? Are you all right? You don’t look well.’

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So We’re Comin’ Out of the Kitchen*

Fair warning: this post isn’t going to be one of my usual crime fiction posts. If you were hoping for my regular dronings about the genre, my apologies. Please come back tomorrow.

Still here? Thanks. As this is posted, it’s International Women’s Day. One question many people have is: is such a day still relevant? Haven’t women achieved equality? The answer (in case you haven’t been following the news…) is no. Even in cosmopolitan, developed places, it’s still clear that we have a lot of work to do. I’ll just give one example. In a recent large study, it was shown that, by the age of six – 6! – many young girls already believe that they are not as smart as boys.

The issues here are complex and multilayered, and I won’t pretend to touch on all of them. But, speaking as a wordsmith with a background in language, I do have a few things to say about language.

That’s right, language. Why is it that, after so much time, we still have such a long way to go when it comes to real equality for women? Part of the answer is arguably that we learn our attitudes very early in life, and that we learn them in part through language. The words we use, and the way we use them, transmit our culture, and our (grand)children adopt that culture. That’s how cultures endure.

The problem is that our language can help to perpetuate a lot of inequity. Now, before you start thinking that I’m talking of what a lot of people call ‘political correctness,’ I’m really not. It goes much, much deeper than saying something in a certain way so as not to offend. It’s what our choice of words says about our underlying beliefs, and how those beliefs are perpetuated. And it happens even if we don’t consciously intend it.

There are many, many things that we can do to work together for a more equitable society. I won’t mention them all; there are too many. Let’s just focus on language, and I’ll give you an idea (I hope) of what I mean.

Gentlemen…

A word in your ear, please. Most of the men I know are not consciously sexist. Certainly, they’re not misogynists. In fact, most of the men of my acquaintance are eager to support equity for women. But our culture has made certain things ‘all right,’ and a lot of men – even those who see women as equal partners – perpetuate that culture without being aware of it. Here are just a few examples.

If you share your life with a female partner, and you cook a meal, or do laundry, or dust, or buy food, you are not ‘helping.’ You are doing part of your share. To say that you’re ‘helping mum,’ implies that it’s her job to cook, clean, mind the children, well, you get the idea. I know, it’s hard to get past that. But think about the messages that you send when you say you’re ‘helping.’

And, while I have your attention, there are a lot of other ways in which you can be allies to the women in your lives. For instance, you can call out your fellow men when they demean women. There’s a difference between a funny, raunchy, ‘locker room’ joke, and a joke or comment that degrades women. When you hear the latter, that’s the time to do something about it. The same goes for hearing your fellow men refer to women (or each other) using certain words. Yes, it might make for some awkwardness. That part’s difficult. I know it’s harder to do than to write. But when people aren’t called out, it all continues to be all right. And it’s not. And do you really want a world where your (grand)daughters are demeaned and made to feel less because they are female? Where your (grand)sons are responsible for denigrating women?

And please pay attention to things your (grand)sons and their friends might say. Remember, they are looking to you to show them how a man behaves. Allowing degrading remarks (e.g. ‘Man up!’ ‘You run like a girl!’), or making them, simply perpetuates the culture that permits them.

Ladies…

You are not off the hook here. How do you think girls come to believe that it’s all right to body-shame, to ‘slut-shame,’ or to otherwise bully each other? They learn it from what they hear and see.

Every time you try to laugh off a misogynistic remark, even if you later express resentment, you are showing your (grand)daughters that they should accept such treatment. When you comment on, say, a female legislator’s clothes and hair, rather than her policies, you are teaching your (grand)daughters that women’s appearances are more important than their ideas. That silences those women who could be role models. When you use certain words (you know the ones I mean!) to describe people you don’t like, you are teaching your (grand)daughters that only one part of their anatomy is of interest, and even that is somehow ‘wrong.’

Even off-hand remarks about famous people (e.g. ‘She’s gotten so fat!’ ‘She looks like a tramp in that dress,’ etc..) send messages to young people. And certainly remarks about people you know send those messages.

Remember: your (grand)daughters look to you as role models. What you say about them and yourself carries weight. What you say in their presence, even if it’s about others, carries weight, too.

Does that mean that we need to censor every word? No. I doubt if we could. Besides, as I say, this isn’t about political correctness. It’s about how we transmit culture through words, and what that teaches our children about men and women.

We can make a difference just in our own lives, and that can have a powerful impact in the future. Have conversations with your (grand)children about what words really mean. Call it out when you hear language that objectifies women or demeans them. Call yourself out when you catch yourself saying something that demeans women (that’s a great way to teach children to deal with their own mistakes). Those little choices that we make all of the time, often without being aware of it, can have much more influence than we know.

And, after all, think of the alternative. What if there were a world where women simply…weren’t?

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Eurythmics’ Sisters Are Doin’ it For Themselves. I invite you to listen to the duet from the Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox and the one and only Aretha Franklin.

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Crime Fiction News Break


 

Links You’ll Want 
 

K.B. Owen

The Mystery of Schroon Lake Inn

Paul. D. Brazill

A Case of Noir 

Wellcome Book Slam and Prize

Aye Write

Left Coast Crime

Deal Noir

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